Tuesday, 31 May 2011

terrible suffering of animals exported live from Australia to Indonesia

I couldn't bring myself to watch the Four Corners expose last night about the ghastly, horrific suffering of the cattle who are exported to Indonesia from Australia, but a friend who forced herself to endure the terrible footage told me about what she saw.

How can Australians let this terrible business continue? I'm a meat eater, and so is Penny, but we try as much as possible to source meat that comes from animals who had a reasonable life and a humane death.

We have to raise our voices and stop this torture of living creatures!

I can't look at the footage, but even the things written in this article are too terrible to think about.

practising for Honey's doggy dancing competition

Well, Honey's competition has inspired us to get back to basics and resume having fun with doggy dancing. For a long time after Penny's operation on her cruciate ligament I've been rather nervous about trying out too many moves, because I'm scared of injuring the knee. But it's such fun dancing in the kitchen that I got brave tonight and tried out old familiar moves. Tomorrow will be 'crunch time' when we see whether she is limping.

I dragged out the great video I bought when I attended a Richard Curtis seminar last year - oh, was it last year? Maybe it was the year before, now that I think about it. Last year is a black hole of depression about Penny's increasingly sore knee and then the long, slow recovery. Okay, maybe it was 2009...

No, just checked back and it was April 2010.

Anyway, I sat down and watched it and decided to build on the old reversing trick she knows quite well. (Richard Curtis calls it 'verse'.) We're going to try to conquer a new move where she circles backwards around me. If we get super sophisticated, I'll try turning in the opposite direction as she does it. You can see him doing it in the beginning of this routine.

I'm not thinking we could incorporate this in her routine for Honey's competition, but I thought it would be fun to try it anyway. (Our so-called 'routine', by the way, is pretty chaotic so far, but we're having fun, and I know that's the point of this competition!)

Here we are, back at work... or should I say, back having fun?

This is only the first part of the circling move. We'll stick with this part of it until it's definitely part of her repertoire, then maybe we'll try the next part of the move.

NOTE: My sister just looked at this post and told me that in the Richard Curtis routine the dog is circling forwards, and in the move I'm trying to learn with Penny, she will circle forwards backwards.

Wednesday, 25 May 2011

how will we feed protein to our dogs in the future?

Twice this week I've heard about 'test-tube meat' but I can't recall which radio program said that in the Netherlands they've grown pork in a test-tube. I found an old link here. However, I think on the program this week the speaker said that one problem with the experiment is that the cells, as they grow, start to differentiate, to specialise, so that the product is not just muscle meat. (I'm not sure about that, though.)

It is the second mention of the topic, though, that has me writing this post. One of the most informative bloggers around is the US vet, Dr. Patty Khuly, who has written a discussion of the ways in which we might find protein to feed our pets in the future. She looks at the possibility of feeding our animals laboratory-raised meat, or insects, in part referring to a story on npr about in vitro meat.

I think the idea of lab-raised meat is somewhat repulsive, but not half as much as I find it repulsive to think of the cruel way in which we humans treat animals as 'things' and raise them in ghastly factory-farms. If we could create artificial meat in a petri-dish (a GIANT one, lol), perhaps it would be the end of our cruelty to food-animals.

But might it also be the end of those species? Would creatures like cows, chickens or geese, for instance, survive into the future if we stopped farming them? Perhaps it would be another one of those mass extinctions that have dotted history.

If our dogs ate insects or artificial meat, I wonder how they would get the calcium they need? I like feeding Penny meaty bones on occasion, not just to clean her teeth, but to add calcium to her diet. (I'm not very well-informed about all this, so maybe I've got it wrong.)

It's an interesting topic, at any rate. And I think it's a conversation we'll be having over the next decade or so, because it's obvious there just isn't going to be enough protein to feed humanity in the near future, let alone other species.

Monday, 23 May 2011

blogging about dog friendly travel

Two Pitties has come up with what I think is a lovely idea - that we should post about our own cities, including things travellers could do if they had a dog with them.

She lives in Chicago, a city that I once visited and loved. I was only there for a few days, but I fell in love with the magnificent buildings. And I saw something I've always wanted to see - fireflies!

Of course, I didn't have Penny with me - in fact, that was before Penny came into my life and I realised I could be just as happy walking in a park with her as travelling the world.

Saturday, 21 May 2011

the aqueduct walk at Warburton

Many's the time Penny and her humans have walked the lovely Aqueduct Walk at Warburton, but usually we start at the top of Yuonga Road and head back towards Melbourne.

However, there is another section available for walking these days, the section that heads towards O'Shannassy Reservoir. Like the rest of the Trail, it's flat and well-kept.

One thing I love about it is that in some places you are in a typical section of rainforest, with magnificent treeferns,

but there are also sections of pine forest where you would swear you were in Europe - except for the native plants scattered beneath the tall trunks.

Friday, 20 May 2011

the value of microchipping your dog

Today Penny and I drove to Blackburn to walk at Gardiner's Creek. As we travelled along busy Elgar Road, to my dismay I saw a puppy running alongside the traffic, trailing its lead. I couldn't leave it, obviously lost and frightened as it was, so I parked in a side street - which, fortuitously turned out to be a dead-end court - and left Penny in the car while I followed the dog.

It was panicky and wouldn't let me close, but I stayed between it and the busy road, and eventually herded it into the yard of a house at the top of the street. Calling out to let the homeowner know I was on the property, I followed it. A lady came out and we realised it was in a corner of the yard with no way out except past me. The poor creature allowed me to come close enough to grab the lead.

The lady told me she'd seen the dog around a couple of days previously. Thinking that it might be local, I called in at a nearby vet and told them I had a lost dog in my car. (Amazingly, Penny, who can be quite unfriendly when I arrive with lost dogs, sat quietly and ignored it.)

The lovely staff on the desk at the clinic took the dog in and set about checking for a microchip. Yes, there was one. But no, the owner hadn't registered an address. I had no option but to leave the puppy in their obviously kind hands and leave.

But as I walked with Penny I worried that the dog might end up in a shelter and be killed, as so many are.

So I headed back to check whether it was possible for the puppy to go to an organisation like 'Rescued With Love', where it doesn't have to suffer the trauma of a shelter.

And, what do you know! They had managed to contact the owner - and he was overjoyed. Because... the puppy had been lost since last Sunday, and they lived in Mordialloc, twenty-two kilometres away!

It seems they had come to Box Hill to look at the model railway, the puppy ran off, and they had searched in vain for days.

The poor hungry, filthy dog (its ribs were showing through) was already having a little meal, a warm bath and lots of love.

But I think the best moment would be when its own special human walked through the door.

Tuesday, 17 May 2011

Penny explores the giant redwoods

On Wednesday Penny and I discovered two new redwood trees planted near the river in Warburton. I wonder why they are there?

It seems as if someone has decided to extend the stand of trees that have been there since the early twentieth century.

It's quiet and strange under the gigantic old trees, because of the silencing effect of the pine needles, something we Aussies are not used to, but Penny seemed to like it there.

Monday, 16 May 2011

dangers for dogs in the kitchen

There's an interesting video on PetPlace.com about chocolate, grapes and uncooked dough. We are always careful about the first two, but it was a shock to realise bread dough is so dangerous, both in terms of bloat and of alcohol poisoning. If Penny were to eat a bit of uncooked dough, she would be in for a double dose of danger.

Saturday, 14 May 2011

dogs burying bones and Elocon cream for skin problems

Yesterday Penny enjoyed a nice old bone, one which she brought in from the garden. We can't figure out where it came from, because it seemed to be a lamb shank bone, and the last lamb shank she had would have been in January, or early February, given that we fed her the ultra low allergenic diet for months.

However old it was, she sure enjoyed it, chomping on it for more than an hour. She arrived back inside with a dirty face, so I guess some of it is buried out there again for later enjoyment.

It's so satisfying to be off the restricted diet!

We're wiping her vulva area with baby wipes each time we see her wee (who would have thought that buying a puppy could lead to having to do that?), and we have put Elocon cream or lotion on her vulva, paws and rear end for a week. Now we'll put the cream or lotion on twice a week.

So far so good - no bottom licking and no paw licking!

Thursday, 5 May 2011

practising our routine for Honey's competition

Penny and I have chosen our music for Honey's dancing competition and we're starting to practise. In the kitchen, of course.

Here we are trying out two movements. One is sitting still. Hmmm...shouldn't be too hard, but who knows, on the day it will probably go pear-shaped. The second is picking up something and walking beside me with it in her mouth. Not as easy as I thought it would be.

But we're having fun.

Wednesday, 4 May 2011

dogs, allergies and diet

Today we have been set free from the boring, boring hypo-allergenic diet our vet suggested. We followed it religiously, but unhappily, for months, but today when we went to see the skin specialist she said she doesn't believe commercial low allergen diets work, because they all have some proteins in them. For instance, one famous brand has rice, and another has soy.

Hooray! We can go back to our usual wide mix of foods.

Penny still has a rash around her vulva, and still has rashes between her toes, but we are going to wash her bottom with baby wipes (non-alcoholic ones) and try to control the symptoms of her allergies with Elocon cream and lotion, applied as sparingly as we can.

We'll go back for a review in seven weeks. Perhaps we might have tests to see if environmental factors are making Penny itchy, but we'll wait to see whether that is necessary.

Now we can focus on getting organised for Honey's dancing competition. I'll have to think of some nice tasty treats to encourage Penny - but really, she just enjoys the dancing for its own sake.